As kits, we spent our summer splashing in the stream and catching frogs while our parents went out to hunt. My sister would always catch the most. I wonder where she is now?
What happens: A young fox explores his new home: a subdivision. He wanders alone and remembers a time when he lived in the wilderness with his parents and siblings. Joyful memories of doing things like playing, swimming, and catching prey and juxtaposed with scenes of suburban life such as housing developments, traffic, and the parking lots of megastores. Our isn’t quite sure what to make of his new home and wonders how he will ever get back to his family. Lo and behold, he begins to see men digging in an open field and soon discovers that they have constructed a wildlife underpass that connects the suburb to a wildlife refuge. Will his family be waiting for him there?
The good: This book absolutely broke me. I am a major animal lover (hence why I have one too many rescue dogs in my small apartment) and any animal story about the ways in which humans destroy animal habitats really hits home for me. I don’t want to play the noble savage or magical NDN card here, but it pains me on a personal and cultural level to see the onslaught of profit disguised as progress that fails to take into account the ways in which our actions profoundly impact ecosystems. So, yeah, this one got me. The fox as a character was great. It was easy to empathize with him without the book being too devastating for young children to handle. The text is well written, free of any clunkiness. The use of longer sentences featuring the fox’s musings about his past punctuated by short sentences concerning his present were aptly jarring and heartbreaking. The illustrations are achingly beautiful and I found the use of shadow and cool toned colors really impacted the reading experience for me.
The not so good: Aside from the fact that this book is just so damn heartbreaking, I have no complaints.
Rating: 5/5 stars.
Citation: Thompson, Jolene. Faraway Fox. Illustrated by Justin Thompson, HMH Books For Young Readers, 2016.